The Last Spike

Train games are a big deal in the world of board games - the biggest of them all being Ticket to Ride, a board game behemoth of epic proportions. When you bring The Last Spike to the table, it may draw comparisons to TTR, but it's a very different game, and I actually enjoy it more.  Let's take a look.

In The Last Spike, you and the other players are rail barons and land speculators striving to connect cities by rail in the 1800s United States. The ultimate goal is to have a complete route connecting east and west (St. Louis and Sacramento, at the far right and left of the board respectively). The play is interesting because (as in games like Cutthroat Caverns) you are cooperating and competing at the same time.  While you all share the goal of connecting cities, and can all potentially benefit every time a connection is made, there can only be one ultimate winner and sometimes the right move is not to connect.  Not all routes will be completed.

The game is fast to learn, fast to play, and simple enough that almost anyone can enjoy it.  On your turn you have three simple and quick actions: 1) Place a railroad tile and pay for it (the dark squares above) 2) You MAY, but are not required to, purchase a land card (the colorful cards above) 3) Draw a new railroad tile randomly from the supply.  That's all there is to it!  It's a game of simplicity, but with interesting depth. A big part of the game is managing your cash flow (in the early going you'll buy lots of land cards, but they won't pay out for a while, so you'll need to choose carefully.  Also you will need to decide how much to diversify and buy cards for different cities, vs. specializing in a few cities and getting bigger payouts.) This sort of financial thinking is good for kids to learn - really, good for everyone to learn!  In my game I came perilously close to running out of money (and having to sell some of my land deeds for half what I paid for them!) but then the routes started connecting cities and the money started rolling in.  I ended up missing the win by a mere 1000 dollars (one lowest value chip!).  I should have abstained from buying one of the land deeds toward the end of the game- it's not advised to buy one unless you think it will eventually pay out due to a connection.

In conclusion, The Last Spike is a game that will be a hit with families, light strategy gamers, and probably just about anyone.   I recommend it. You may learn more at Columbia Games' web site.


  1. Thanks for the review! Read the game rules at


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